A blessing and a curse.
It’s been a few years now since I worked in an office environment, and although there’s a lot I don’t miss, there are some things I do. Daily social interaction with workmates is a handy way to make sure you aren’t going a bit mad. When you get stuck on a problem and swear loudly enough someone will eventually pop their head in and give you a chance to explain it to them, at which point you might suddenly figure out what’s wrong, or at the very least garner some sympathy.
When you work from home, you get total control of your workspace, and that’s great. Except that you might start getting obsessive over unimportant details like where to put your desk, how many whiteboards is too many, how best to arrange your network hardware*, whether you work better with music and which music to choose, ambient light levels, optimal selection of pens, etc.
Also you get to set your own hours. Awesome. Although what this really means for me is that I work in fits and starts at weird hours, often in the wee small hours, because I am not good at delaying the gratification of being able to use the daylight hours for something other than staring at a computer screen.
Overall I still like it a lot more than not, but I just wish I could be a little more disciplined with my schedule.
* Answer: Pile it onto a high shelf and just try to ignore it.
A nice reality-check for anyone tempted to excuse sexual harassment or assault on the grounds of situational complexity, cultural misunderstandings, natural urges, difficulty in parsing non-verbal cues, victim’s choice of clothing etc… What if a person applied the same lack of judgement and consideration in other areas of everyday life? The following are excerpted from: If Consent Was Really That Hard, Whiny Dudes Would Fail At Every Aspect of Life:
- First of all, they’d all be in jail anyway for repeated trespassing. This would happen after they tried to get jobs by walking into workplaces uninvited, putting themselves at a workstation, and demanding a paycheck. They would, of course, be told that they’re trespassing by the bewildered people in the workplace, and they’d reply, “But I work here. I have this job.” And when they were told that no, they have to apply first and be hired, they’d throw a temper tantrum and refuse to leave, saying, “You advertised a job opening! The job is clearly mine!” until the cops came by and cuffed them and threw them back into jail. Rinse, repeat, because making sure you’re hired before you get a job is HAAAAARRRRD.
- Driving a car, of course, would be completely unmanageable. They’d always be getting into car wrecks every time they drove more than a block, because right-of-way would make no sense to them. Imagine trying to merge into traffic if you can’t handle the process of “reading” another car’s “body language” to see if it’s letting you into traffic. Because this doesn’t happen to them, we can safely assume they can read car body language, so their claims to be unable to read women’s body language are simply put, lies.
- Not to mention the routine damage to their bodies from constant animal attacks, because they don’t understand how to tell a friendly animal who wants petting from a snarling animal that will bite. But, in reality, they can understand animal body language, even as they claim to be unable to understand their fellow human beings who they can converse with in a spoken language.
A pic from the front of my house at sunset as it was starting to rain again. Mmmmmm…. atmos.
If you were a kid watching TV in Australia around 1980, you probably remember this psychedelic animated music video they used to play all the time on the ABC (public TV station).
Some people were more traumatized by it than I was.
How worried all these poor rich jerks look! Obama’s gonna slightly increase their crushing tax burdens! Original article here.
A quick reality check, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau:
- Fewer than 2.4% of all U.S. households have a combined income of more than $250,000.
- Fewer than 1% of single moms earn more than $200,000.
- Fewer than 2.5% of retirement aged households earn more than $180,000.
- Fewer than 0.5% of single women (living alone) earn more than $200,000 (which is both interesting and sad).
- $650,000 is so high and represents such a tiny percentage of the population that they don’t even put it in their spreadsheets, usually topping out around the 200-250 range.
Ever since iOS 6 came out I’ve been very envious of people with newer iPhones than mine; mostly for that built-in panorama mode, as all the panorama apps I’d tried on the iPhone 4 were frankly garbage. But finally my 24 month contract ended recently so I was able to renew with a new plan + iPhone 5 (32GB).
Here’s two shots from right beside my secret low-tide paddle pool. Click to embiggen…
I can’t believe how smoothly the exposure variation is handled, like in this case even when the sun is in the shot.
Other things I note (compared to the iPhone 4):
- Significantly faster/more responsive.
- Headphone jack on the bottom!
- Extra vertical pixels seems to make the screen feel bigger all round.
- Gets slightly warmer with use?
- Blacker screen (well the black parts are anyway, which is good)
- Lighter and flatter (but not too much of either). And I actually like the fact that it’s physically taller.
- So minimal in form. I’m really liking the physical ‘fit and finish’ of the new iPhone design, although the fact that the volume buttons have the slightest freedom to rattle stops me giving it an A+ in that department. I’d really like the future iPhone to be indistinguishable from a thin black slab of cut glass (and just as waterproof would be nice).
- Front-facing camera is 4 times the resolution, for usable selfies (iPhone 4 is 640 x 480, otherwise known as potato resolution).
- Makes me wish the lightning connector had been introduced 5 years ago with the first iPhone. It is so much nicer and I love the way it snaps into place. Annoyed at the crazy $35 price for the adapter needed to use old 3rd party devices.
- Nano-SIM. Seriously? SERIOUSLY!?! it’s like 1mm smaller than micro-SIM which Apple only just introduced with iPhone 4, and seems to be designed just to annoy phone retailers and complicate technology sharing.
- Home button really feels like the weakest physical link, I’m going to try not to mash it too much (the home button on my 4 is half dead).
- With the metal back I might have bought the white one, were there any display models to play with. Just for a change.
- Same old monophonic speaker cheat! It looks like stereo speakers at the bottom but the left one is actually for the microphone (or just dummy holes).
- Anodized aluminum is too delicate! I already have tiny scuffs and scratches from putting the thing in my pocket with keys. Again, I’m really looking forward to when an iPhone is a solid piece of glass– ie way less prone to scratches than coated metal. I never use phone covers so it looks like I’m just gonna end up scratching the hell out of this thing.
- Room for another row of grid aligned brightly colored square icons which I am getting royally sick of scanning through.
On the subject of icons, where the hell is the “auto-organize by category” option so I don’t have to think about which page I want to put my house hunting searching app on? I want other people to spend a lot of time carefully deciding how these innumerable technicolor gumdrops should be arranged so I don’t have to!
Well it looks like cutting back on alcohol and (to a lesser degree) sugar and carbs has had some positive effects.
My weight is around 97kg right now, about 6 kg less than it was in July, and my blood pressure is now close to normal levels at roughly 125/85.
Blood tests show my cholesterol and triglycerides are back down to where they were in 2010. Still too high, but heading in the right direction. Liver function is also improved.
The wild card in all this is a fairly recent recurrence of my long dormant ulcerative colitis, which I’m not at all happy about (although to be honest it’s probably helping me keep the weight off right now). The medication I took to deal with it last time seems far less effective this time around, so I’ve no idea how long I will have to put up with it.
Weight: 97.2 kg
Waist: 106 cm
Blood Pressure: 125/85
Here’s what my internet connectivity looks like when my machine is idle. Not particularly great but I get by:
Here’s what it looks like when Dropbox is uploading a large media file in the background:
And here’s what it looks like when Google Drive is doing the same:
That horrible 509 millisecond ping time (and it can easily get as bad as 1500 ms) ruins pretty much any attempt to use the internet on my entire network. Google employs tens (hundreds?) of thousands of talented engineers and yet the company deliver half-baked shit like this that feels like an intern developed it and didn’t even bother to test properly. Are the top developers just being paid just to use Google+ all day?
I’m really sick of multi billion dollar companies rolling out software that looks like it was knocked up in someone’s spare time.
Speaking of which, APPLE. Apple, for somehow finding a way to make iTunes worse, for never making iPhoto better than crap, for taking the dumbest elements of iOS and shoehorning them into OS X, for redesigning the AppleTV interface to be even less useful and sticking me with non-removable MLB and NBA tiles taking up valuable space on the homescreen when I live in Australia and hate TV sport anyway. For failing to come up with a level of organization for apps in iOS better the the useless homescreen folders. For making Airplay work with iTunes but leaving it out of Quicktime. What exactly are all your genius developers working on?
For the past few months Emma and I have been looking for a house to buy, and so far we’ve seen two places we really liked. The first one was like this old country house forgotten in the middle of a regular Sydney suburb, but it was snapped up well before we could get our finances in order. The second we really thought was going to be ours; we seemed to be the only parties genuinely interested and we made a formal offer, but for some reason the owner ended up making other arrangements excluding us and the agent (we never had the chance to make a second offer). We’re still sore about that, as we had come to assume it would be ours.
So now we start the new year frustrated that we have to start looking again, and pessimistic about finding a place we like as much anytime soon. I had even been digging into NSW crime stats to work out the relative niceness of the suburb (Wiley Park) which, although it isn’t generally considered a ‘nice’ suburb, is actually within a region (Canterbury) that is markedly below average on a lot of key crime stats.
We continue scouring the region for other options, mainly because it’s one of the only decent areas we can really afford to look at. The other area we’re looking at is nearby Auburn, but I’m not liking the stats quite as much for that region. Where the Canterbury region factors fairly low on most of these stats, Auburn tends to be on the high side (although some numbers are trending strongly down over the last 5 years). The current region I live in is technically Wollongong (which fares very badly, although I live very much on the outskirts) and I grew up in the Tweed region.
All data below is extracted from tables provided by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Numbers represent incidents per 100,000 population.
Break & Enter
Harassment & Threats
Patinkin was absent from a table read for Criminal Minds and did not return for a third season. The departure from the show was not due to contractual or salary matters, but over creative differences. He left apologetic letters for his fellow cast members explaining his reasons and wishing them luck. Many weeks before his departure, in a videotaped interview carried in the online magazine Monaco Revue, Patinkin told journalists at the Festival de Télévision de Monte-Carlo that he loathed violence on television and was uncomfortable with certain scenes in Criminal Minds. He called his choice to do Criminal Minds his “biggest public mistake”, and stated that he “thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality, and after that, I didn’t think I would get to work in television again.” 
Although I’ve no problem with violence portrayed on TV in general (eg Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos etc), I am really repulsed by that hackneyed opening scene of so many CSI/Law & Order type shows; detectives standing around a corpse cracking wise about the personal choices and assumed proclivities of the “vic” and musing about just how grisly their demise must have been.
The A.V. Club has a best of 2012 post up, so I thought I’d offer my own top 10 here in lieu of writing a post of any substance…
- Breaking Bad – It took me ages to check this out and I’m so glad I did. From the beginning it’s been clear that it cannot end well, and the question is merely how and when.
- Mad Men – Consistently awesome.
- Homeland – I wasn’t sure how they could possibly set this up for a third season, but they pulled it off with gusto. Mandy Patinkin for best everything.
- Justified – A show that could have been ordinary is made great by making even the lowest scumbags sympathetic and giving everyone a sense of humour.
- The Walking Dead – It was interesting, then it was boring, then it got great. A lesson in letting go of the idiot plot.
- Louie – Heartfelt, charming, random, funny.
- Parks and Recreation – Showing that everyone can like each other and still be funny.
- Archer – Silly, clever, dirty. Some people don’t like it and I don’t understand why.
- Downton Abbey – Didn’t make it into the AV Club’s list for some reason. Lush.
- New Girl – Fun, silly, fluffy. Everyone loves Schmidt.
Even though I set this in iTunes:
Only the last 4 new podcasts are synced to my iPhone. Below you can see the list as it appears in my library and on my iPhone respectively.
I don’t know why it’s not working, I don’t know what the stupid dotty circle means (where are the tips on hover, Apple?), and I’m getting pretty sick of Apple fucking up iTunes and podcast handling.
I know they want me to use their podcasts app instead, but I hate it– it’s SHIT. I also hate iTunes 11. In fact I hate 90% of the application design Apple have done in the last few years, and am hoping against hope that it was all the fault of the recently ousted head of iOS, and that they will start releasing applications that aren’t confusing and crippled in the near future.